ICYMI: ‘Colorado Public Option Isn’t What You Probably Think It Is’

Jun 7, 2021

DENVER – As the end of the 2021 legislative session quickly approaches, lawmakers are rushing to advance House Bill 21-1232 to the Governor’s desk. The so-called Colorado “public option” bill – even though the provision for the state-based public option was removed from the bill weeks ago – “isn’t public and not much of an option,” writes Joey Bunch of Colorado Politics.

Bunch continues, “A public option insurance policy, I thought, was the end goal, but what we got was a hammer and a threat to use it three years out.”

Regarding claims that the bill will bring competition to the health coverage marketplace, he questions, “Is it a fair competition, though, if the government can deploy caps on reimbursements to control the cost of its policy?” Bunch adds, “Saving money comes with a price, though.” 

Stakeholders continue to have serious concerns about the costs and negative consequences of HB21-1232, Bunch highlights, noting that “rural hospitals and clinics have thin profit margins, which leaves a narrow margin for error from unintended consequences.”

Research by the Common Sense Institute found reduced payments to doctors and hospitals “would cost health care providers $830 million to $1 billion by 2024, which equates to losing 3,900 to 4,900 jobs,” under the bill’s previous reduction target of 20 percent. 

Bunch reacts, “Even if you scale it back a quarter, that’s still painful.”

He questions, “If it can’t jell in blue-trending Colorado, with clear Democratic majorities and a cost cutter in the governor’s office, where can it?” 

He adds, “Toss in that it appears President Joe Biden has cooled on a national public option. As national Democrats try to persuade him, walking away from the legislative session with nothing was never an option.” 

Underscoring that the Colorado legislation was more about politics than sound health care policy, Bunch concludes: “It’s politically savvy to take what they can get, declare it a win and put this on ice for three years.”

  • To read the full piece in Colorado PoliticsCLICK HERE.